Captured In Cavyaira
Captured in Cavyaira
Written By Amy Williamson
Illustrations By Amy & James Williamson
Characters . . .
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a kingdom. The kingdom of Cavyaira. This was no ordinary kingdom. Unlike in our world, this one has no humans. It is a mystical, magical palace. Full of daring and adventure. Yet the most amazing thing about it is that it is ruled by guinea pigs!
Of course other animals live there. Mice, rabbits, hamsters, rats, ferrets and all sorts you will never have even heard of.
Rolling green hills stretch as far as the eye can see. In the North lie mountain ranges that are nearly impassable. To the East are field of crops and small harvesting villages dotted between them. In the West are bustling towns and cities, which are never silent and are a beacon of light on the horizon, even in the dead of night. As they say, ‘the West never sleeps!’ Finally, in the South, on the top of a hill, is the most beautiful stone castle.
With turrets and hidden rooms and staircases that lead to nowhere and everywhere all at once. One might expect a stone castle to be cold, but with all the kitchens deep underground in a network of tunnels inside the hill, it is always warm.
The ruler of this fine land is King Nibbles, a handsome, serious guinea pig, with greying whiskers and kind brown eyes. He is well loved by all of his subjects and especially by his daughter, the beautiful Princess Poppy.
Poppy was given everything she could want and never went without as she grew up. Somehow she grew into a gentle and generous Princess. Though many wanted to dislike her for her privileges she made such envy pointless, with her refusal to see anything but good in everybody.
Maybe that is why she was chosen. Her unfailing optimism and instant trust would have made her an easy target. Or perhaps it was because she was so beloved by her people. Whatever the reason King Nibbles was distraught when he received the news…
King Nibbles was deep in discussion with a visiting Prince and a small group of his closest advisors when the worried looking maid burst in, “Your Majesty.” she said inclining her head respectfully.
Something about the way her whiskers were twitching nervously and the fear in her eyes, gained the King’s attention. “Yes?” he asked frowning and turning to her.
“It is the Princess. She is . . . Well she has . . . What I mean is. She’s been kidnapped.” the maid stammered, cringing back in fear and wringing her paws together in distress.
The silence which fell on the room was eerie. But it was nothing compared to the look on the aging King’s face. Disbelief, shock and absolute terror raced across his features before settling into an expression of controlled fury.
“Who, he choked out, “Who has taken her?”
“There was a note.” the maid said in a trembling voice holding out the scrap of paper.
The King snatched it, then turned and spread it on the table to read.
I have your daughter. She is only going to stay safe and alive as long as you obey my demands. You once ignored me but no more. Just try to ignore this! You will make a declaration, saying that I am to marry Poppy and become the future King. You have one week to do this. Think very carefully. Which do you value more? Your kingdom? Or your daughter?
Horatio H Hamster
Horatio? The hamster was known to them.
He had once been the King’s closest advisor and friend, until it was discovered that he was secretly stealing large amounts of crops from surrounding villages. He had claimed that they were been taxed by order of the King. It had been a dark time.
But then the deception had been discovered and Horatio banished the North. How had he managed to get all the way across the kingdom and kidnap Poppy?
The King hunched over in grief. How could anyone harm his sweet daughter? Choosing between his daughter and the kingdom was no issue. But even if he did allow Horatio to marry Poppy, she would be so miserable. How could he resign her to such a fate?
The truth was, he could not. He would have to send a rescue team.
He straightened up and held his head high. He was a King, not a coward. Turning to face the room he fixed a regal expression on his face. “General, I would like you to fetch me your best Knight, immediately.” he proclaimed.
General jumped at being spoken to and then lowered his head so that his chin nearly touched the floor. “I’m so sorry Majesty, but they are all in Prince Buddy’s kingdom,” he said gesturing to the silent Prince with a trembling paw, “They are training with his army.”
“What?! All of them?” the King said in surprise.
General nodded, far too afraid to risk speaking. The King sighed; somehow Horatio must have known this. He had chosen his timing well.
“Well, Majesty, there is . . . One.” General offered timidly.
“Who is this Knight? No. It does not matter. Fetch him to me.” the King ordered, shaking his head dismissively at the cowering cavy before him.
General scrambled for the door, hoping and praying he had not made a colossal mistake in bringing up this particular recruit. There was a reason he had not allowed this guinea pig to travel for extra training. Knight Nutty was believed to be completely beyond all help and training.
Nothing like a bit of pressure and field assignment to make the lad buck his ideas up . . . He hoped so anyway.
Nutty was lazing in his room when the door burst open. The maid who stumbled in was Clover, his dearest and perhaps only friend in the castle. “Nutty,” she began but slipped on something and tumbled into the large bowl Nutty ate his meals from.
Nutty jumped to his paws and gallantly helped her up. She tilted her head to one side and smiled at him. Yes, there was a reason she had the nickname ‘Calamity Clover’!
But it was just the same as the reason which meant he was known as No-Good-Nutty. His spirits sank at the thought. He had tried so hard to be a good Knight. He wanted to make his family proud. But instead he was so clumsy that he had broken more equipment in one day than was normally damaged in a whole year of the entire army using it.
They hadn’t let him go on the training trip with the others. They claimed him would embarrass them all.
That was partly why he had met Clover. She had been crying in the gardens at the same time he had rushed out there to wallow in his misery. They had begun talking.
She was in trouble for breaking her fourth feed bowl of the day. Nutty had comforted her as much as he was able while he explained why he was upset. Somehow they had seen similarities in their situation and they were now firm friends.
“It’s General. He wants to speak with you Nutty. In his office, right now! ” Clover told him with an earnest smile flicking her head to toss the lock of fur which had fallen over her eyes, back into place.
Nutty felt his heartbeat speed up and his mouth went dry. The General? Wanted to talk to him? “He’s going to send me home.” Nutty said in a shaky voice.
Clover shook her head so violently that her entire (rather large!) body moved as well, knocking everything off a small desk. She did not bother to pick it up, “No, haven’t you heard? The Princess has been kidnapped. Everyone else is away so he wants you to go and save her.” she told him, her voice high pitched with excitement.
“He said that? He said he wants me to rescue the Princess?” Nutty said, hopefully.
“I heard,” Clover whispered, leaning closer, “That it was ordered by the King himself.”
“Well I had better get going!” Nutty said excitedly, rushing to the door.
Clover stepped to follow him but slid on the things she had knocked over. Stumbling across the room she crashed into Nutty and they both went flying into the hall. Nutty, laughed as he got to his feet and helped Clover to hers. “Sorry.” she said with another awkward smile.
“Try to stay safe.” Nutty laughed rushing up the hallway, nearly colliding with another maid coming in the opposite direction.
Clover watched him, shaking her head in amusement. He was so eager to please and desperate to be a respected Knight. Sometimes she wondered if he would ever realise that he was perfect, just the way he was.
General was pacing back and forth in his office. This had to work out. It just had to. If it weren’t for the fact that he only had three legs then he would have gone himself.
The scrabble of uncoordinated paws on the polished hall tiles was the only thing that informed him of his incoming last hope.
“You wanted to see me Mr General, Captain, Sir.” Nutty said, paws flying everywhere and barely coming to a halt before the desk in the centre of the room.
“Yes.” General said seriously, hoping that some of his poise and dignity might rub off on the excitable young Knight, “As you may have heard, the King’s only daughter, Princess Poppy was kidnapped sometime last night. You are the only Knight and the King wishes to assemble a rescue team.”
“And he wants me in it?” Nutty said, hopping up and down with unconcealed glee before adding, “Sir.” almost as an afterthought.
“Yes. But you must be responsible. No hair brained schemes or plans. Stick to the strategies and things you have been taught. This is very serious Nutty. The whole kingdom may hang in the balance.” General explained gravely.
Nutty stilled his dancing feet as he tried to look appropriately serious. “Of course sir. Yes sir. Do you think that I‘ll be famous sir?” he said quickly.
General ignored the question and examined Nutty from nose to rump. It was not ideal but it was the best he could do. “Come Nutty. The King is having a meeting to form the rescue group now.” he sighed.
“The King? Oh boy. I’m going to meet the King! Wait till I tell my family that. They will be so proud!” Nutty squealed, popcorning after General.
“You are meeting the King to rescue his daughter. Remember that you must be respectful and controlled at all times. Controlled Nutty. Stop that bouncing lad.” General said in frustration.
With great difficulty, Nutty forced himself to walk calmly beside his three legged leader. But even he could not stop the slight spring in his step.
The door to the great hall was massive and took two large ferret guards to push it open. Nutty followed General into the room, feeling a little awestruck at the enormity of everything.
The King was standing by the window, his gold crown glittering in the sun that seemed to be so different to the feeling in the room. Or rather everyone’s feelings but Nutty’s. He was as happy as the sunshine that streamed into the room, creating sun puddles on the floor.
The King turned to survey the room. Nutty dropped his head in respect that was almost automatic. He felt General’s approval at him doing so without prompting and a small piece of pride blossomed in his chest. He would make them all proud.
“Your Majesty, this is the Knight I spoke of.” General said as he raised his head to meet the King’s gaze.
The King’s shrewd eyes examined the young guinea pig’s barely contained energy and bright expression. If this was all they had, he supposed he would have to make do. “Are you prepared to go and save my daughter Knight Nutty?” he asked in a serious voice.
Nutty raised his eyes to look at the King, “I would lay down my life for her, your majesty.” he said sincerely then gave a small squeak of excitement at the end of his statement, which spoilt what would have otherwise been the perfect thing to say.
General winced, feeling the King looking at him with an ‘are-you-serious?’ look. He shrugged and looked at the floor.
“Your Majesty,” said Prince Buddy, speaking for the first time since they had received the news of the Princess. He had been so silent that the King had very nearly forgotten he was even there. “I would like to accompany the rescue party. You obviously must stay here but I hold a great fondness for the Princess so would do all I can to help this Knight and see her safely returned.” he explained boldly, all but admitting his intention to ask for the Princess’s paw in marriage.
The King did not have to hesitate. “You may go.” he said simply before looking at his Spymaster, “Finley, have you found a suitable candidate to go with them?”
The Spymaster, jumped to attention. “I believe that I know one who could come at such short notice. He is the very best I have ever trained. But he is known to take part in some things which are not entirely . . . legal” he shrugged to illustrate it wasn’t his fault.
“Why, Finn, I didn’t know you cared!” laughed voice from the shadows.
“Break-In Bingo.” sighed the King, his eyes looking up, as though seeking strength.
“At your service.” the newcomer mocked, stepping into the room and looking around with a mischievous smile and glint in his eyes.
The King did not even respond. Instead he turned to the castle Housekeeper, “Have you got anyone in the kitchens which you could spare for a week?” he asked.
The Housekeeper pulled a face but Nutty spoke up. “I know someone who will almost certainly not be missed.”
They all looked at him, “Her name’s Clover. She’s a friend of mine.” he explained.
“Calamity Clover?!” the King asked weakly.
Nutty nodded, surprised that her clumsiness fame had spread even as far as the King.
He had assembled the biggest bunch of laughable misfits as a rescue team, the King thought despairingly. His daughter and kingdom hung in the balance and what was he sending after her? A Spoilt Prince, a No-Good Knight, a Thief and the Clumsiest Kitchen Maid they had ever had.
If this somehow turned out alright he would never ask for another miracle ever again.
“I cannot believe I am part of a rescue team.” Clover said, looking back at the castle, with wide eyes glittering with excitement.
“Well, who else would I have asked for?” Nutty laughed bumping her side cheerfully.
She overbalanced and scrabbled for purchase as she rolled down the path. When she was on her feet again she stuck her tongue out at Nutty over her shoulder and stormed ahead.
They were meeting the Prince Buddy and Bingo at the bottom of the hill. Nutty and Clover both had backpacks of supplies and Nutty wore his head guard and had metal claw caps as his only weapon. The caps were smooth and sharp, fitted perfectly over his neat claws and clinked together as he walked.
Now that he thought about it, maybe he shouldn’t be wearing them blunt when they were nowhere near any sort of battle.
He asked Clover to stop, which she reluctantly did, with a small tut of disapproval. Then he slipped them off, stashing them in his back pack. Now they were going to be late. As they rounded the corner they could see the spy lounging in the shade of a rock while the Prince stood stiffly waiting and watching their approach. “Is that the Prince?” Clover whispered, sounding a little star stuck.
“Yes.” Nutty said and glanced at her, surprised at the adoration in her eyes.
“He’s gorgeous.” she breathed in a girly sigh.
Nutty frowned but had no time to examine her odd reaction as he was faced by the unexpectedly angry Prince. “Where have you been? I’ve been in this sun for far too long. If we are going to make it to the town before nightfall we needed to leave at that exact meeting time. Are you even taking this seriously?” Buddy snapped crossly.
The adoring look dropped from Clover’s face, “We are here now. No need to get off on the wrong foot and make each other think we are unreasonable fools. Lets get going or we may well be running as late as you fear.” she said quickly stepping between them and herding them down the path.
Completely distracted, Nutty forgot whatever he had planned to say and did as he was told. Bingo chuckled. “Well said fair wench.”
Clover turned to make a rude comment about not wanting to be called a wench but tripped on the loose dry ground and went tumbling into the Prince. Bingo roared with laughter as he watched them try to right themselves. Clover winced as she got to her feet thinking about what she had just been saying about not wanting to make a bad first impression. The Prince threw her a dark look as he tried to dust himself down and continue onwards with his nose in the up in the air and an offended sniff.
Clover rolled her eyes and smiled at Nutty. This was going to be an interesting journey if the Prince expected them to obey him and fall at his feet. Yes, Clover suspected there would very likely be a lot of falling if she was involved, but she was not about to do everything the young royal wanted just because he thought he was higher up the food chain.
They walked in silence for a long while. You might have expected it to be an uncomfortable silence but with the sun beating down on them they were almost to hot to walk, let alone chat. Finally, the town of Rollstone came into view.
There was a sigh of relief from the exhausted group. By the time they reached the edge of the town the sun had dipped below the horizon but it was still unbearably hot.
Bingo, being the most well travelled of the group, recommended they stayed at The Pig Inn. He assured them that it was a sturdy quiet place, with good food and fresh hay nest beds in every room.
It sounded wonderful after they had been on their feet for so very long. They spotted the swinging sign and made eagerly for the building, with it’s glowing windows, beckoning to the weary travelers.
When the door swung open the sound which greeted them was anything but quiet and peaceful. Shouting and squeaking filled the air. Bingo squeezed ahead of them. “Madame Marilyn, whatever is going on?” he asked a chubby female guinea pig, stood in the centre of the crowd angry crowd of shouting patrons.
Somehow she heard him and replied in an accented voice, “Rupert, zee chef, ‘as stormed off in a huff and everyone is hungry but I have nothing’ to give them.”
Before Bingo could say anything else, Buddy stepped round him. “My name is Prince Buddy, and I can cook.” he stated calmly.
Madame Marilyn looked unsure but seemed to remember the saying, ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. She nodded and led him through the crowd to a door at the end of the room. Exchanging a look of curiosity Bingo, Clover and Nutty followed them into a large kitchen. “Use anytheeeng’ you like.” Madame Marilyn said stepping back to observe the dusty stranger, who she was not sure could be Prince, looking as dirty as he did.
Buddy looked around the room calmly before going to a small sink and washing his paws in preparation. “At this short notice I can do a set of vegetable platters and salads followed by hay cakes. Will that be to your customers liking?” he asked Marilyn coolly.
She nodded and rushed off to calm the noisy group still demanding food.
Clover, Bingo and Nutty watched silently as he washed, chopped, mixed, tossed and baked. They could not understand what reason a Prince might have to need to know how to cook but they didn’t question him as a delicious aroma filled the kitchen. Marilyn found them a table and they sat to taste his handiwork. Whether it was because they were so hungry anything would have tasted wonderful, or because the food was really as amazing as it looked and smelt, they ate it all.
The rowdy group on the table beside them fell silent after the first bite and offered compliments to the chef before heading to their rooms. “Wow. He has the looks and can cook. What more can a girl want?!” joked Clover nudging Nutty.
Marilyn agreed to give them all rooms as payment for Buddy’s help. They stared at Buddy in wonder as he joined them to head up to their rooms. The look on his face said not to ask but Clover offered a smile, “That was wonderful food. Thank you.” he looked at her in surprise and tried to hide the answering smile which spread across his face in pride.
He nodded at her then marched off to his room and closed the door. The others said quiet good nights to one another, and made their way to their own rooms.
Maybe it would not be so bad to travel with a Prince after all. Clover thought she could forgive him all of his bad manners for just one bite of those mouth-watering hay cakes!
They grouped together the next morning, feeling awake and refreshed. Marilyn had contacted another chef who arrived bright and early to give them a fresh breakfast before they left. Wanting to travel as much as they could before it got too hot the sun had barely risen as the left The Pig Inn.
Clover chattered cheerily with Nutty as they walked, not wanting to have a similar silence to the one yesterday, descend and last the whole trip. Though it probably shouldn’t be called a trip. A trip was what Clover regularly did. It only lasted a moment, was a bit embarrassing and did not bother anyone all that much. This was a mission. As rescue mission which was of the utmost importance.
When they finally reached the edge of Rollstone, the townsfolk were beginning to stir and face the day but the streets were still quiet.
The group chose a trail that went North East. It would almost certainly take them through some crop towns where they could get refreshment or spend the night.
There was a determination about the group which had not been there yesterday. Clover was still stumbling at every crack or bump in the road but the others always caught her before she fell or steadied her when she was off balance.
When they came to an uneven pathway through a woodland Buddy offered to slow a little for her. She shook her head but was surprised when they all slowed anyway. It was nice beneath the shaded trees. Calm even.
When they emerged the other side of the forest the fields they passed looked odd. Messy. Sort of like the ground had been churned up or somehow exploded from within.
Bits of leaf and vegetable were scattered half-eaten everywhere.
It was too quiet. At this time of year the fields should be a hive of activity. Not silent and empty.
A small village was not far ahead and they all squinted to try to see anyone. But the town was as silent as the fields. Without stopping for discussion they bunched closer together.
Something was wrong, very very wrong.
The village sign read ‘TwoLeaf’ and creaked sinisterly in the quiet midday breeze. The houses were shut up and nothing seemed alive. A ghost town.
“Who are you?” demanded a rough voice.
The group span to face the group of harvest mice and guinea pigs, standing in a line, with weapons in their paws. No one dared to speak until Buddy told them in a soothing voice “Nothing but travellers passing through.”
“A likely story.” one mouse snapped gnashing it’s teeth.
Clover flinched and Nutty leaned into her side in comfort before speaking, “What else could we be?” he asked in a surprisingly diplomatic voice.
The mouse chattered it’s teeth but another spoke before it could, “I think they’re telling the truth Nigel.” it said.
“Nonsense. They are here to steal what’s left of our carrot crops.” Nigel said fiercely.
“Ooooo. I love carrots.” Clover said, brightening.
“See, thieving, good-for-nothing, scoundrels.” Nigel said stepping menacingly towards them.
“I think someone had better tell us what is going on here.” Buddy sighed.
Nigel opened his mouth, no doubt to say something horrible but the mouse at his side hit his nose with her stick. He rubbed his injured face with his paws and looked dejectedly down at the floor.
“Ignore Nigel. He’s all bark and no bite. The problem is that we have something stealing all the vegetable before we can harvest them. The carrots are all we have left.” she explained.
“Rabbits.” Bingo said softly from where he crouched, a little away from the others. Stepping back he revealed a large print in the dust.
Then the ground began to rumble and shake. “They’re coming.” one mouse squeaked in fear.
They raised their weapons but as the thumping grew closer they grew more and more scared. Then one, who looked suspiciously like Nigel, ran for the houses and the others immediately scattered.
Nutty, Clover, Buddy and Bingo looked around, trying to work out what to do. All of a sudden when it seemed the approaching monster was upon them the noise stopped and the ground stilled. It was quiet, apart from a snort of air behind them.
Slowly they turned to gaze up at the most enormous grey rabbit they had ever seen in their lives.
“Rabbit.” squeaked Clover, stumbling back in fear.
Somehow she hit into Buddy, who fell into Bingo and took down Nutty in the process. The rabbit didn’t react. From their new positions they watched as it lumbered past them towards a barn, the ground trembling with every step almost as much as the piggies were.
“Hey.” Nutty called out indignantly.
The rabbit stopped. Its massive head turned slowly towards them again. Clover whimpered. “Hey, you need to be . . . a bit . . . nicer.” Nutty said, his voice tailing off as he met its eyes.
It stepped towards them again, menacingly. Clover turned and tried to rush towards the nearest building but her clumsiness got in the way once more. Despite the fact there was nothing to trip on, she tripped and landed in the only muddy puddle in the entire village.
Muck splashed out around her hitting everyone in close proximity. As she stood up, she blinked the mud from her eyes and shook herself down.
Yet more mud flew through the air, coating anything it had missed earlier. The rabbit looked at her and its whiskers twitched. She spat out a mouthful of gloopy mess and pulled a face. The rabbit’s lips twitched and it let out a little chuckle.
They another, till it began laughing so hard it had to clutch at it’s sides. Clover looked at it with wide eyes and gave a nervous giggle. At the sounds, the townsfolk began to emerge from their hiding places watching the monster that they had so feared, rolling around on the floor, helpless with laughter.
Nutty exchanged a look with Clover and leaned over to help her out, but somehow lost his grip and was ended up joining her in the mud bath.
The rabbit howled with laughter as they both slipped and slid around, trying to get out. Buddy gave Bingo an ‘aren’t you going to help them?’ look. Bingo returned his own, ‘not on your life, aren’t you?’ raised eye brow. They both smiled and continued to watch the messy pair, while doing nothing.
The rabbit wiped a tear from his eye before pulling both Nutty and Clover from the mud with a squelch. “So,” Buddy said in a serious voice, to the rabbit, “Who are you and why have you been stealing from this town?”
“My name is Elvis. I live in a warren just underneath this town with my family.” he explained.
“But we sacrificed the vegetables to you as usual this year and they were all gone.” said one nervous mouse.
Elvis frowned. “But they weren’t there. Your representative told us that you had had enough of us taking food you cared for most of the year. He said you didn’t want us to churn up the ground before planting anymore.” he told them.
“But we did put them out and there is no town representative.” the mouse said.
“That’s not what your Horatio told us.” Elvis mumbled looking decidedly uncomfortable.
“Did you say Horatio?” Bingo asked.
“Yes a hamster.” Elvis replied, in a puzzled voice as he tried to work out what Bingo was getting at.
“I’m afraid it sounds like you have been got at by the very villain we are after.” Bingo told them.
“I thought you were travelers.” interjected Nigel who had made a reappearance after it seemed the danger was gone.
“We are a rescue mission sent by the King himself. His daughter, Princess Poppy has been kidnapped by the evil Horatio H Hamster. The H stands for horrible.” Bingo told them.
There was a long silence as they processed this news. “So you don’t want to kill us all and steal the veggies?” asked Nigel.
“And you don’t want to break the agreement with us and keep all the vegetables for yourself?” Elvis said in a soft voice.
“Did anyone else see this hamster?” Buddy asked.
They all shook their heads. “Any idea where he might go from here?” Bingo added.
“The only ways out are back the way you came or straight down this trail. It will take you to a path that goes all the way to the North Mountains.” offered a bright young mouse, eager to help the King’s group.
“We need to get going but I trust you can sort this out amongst yourselves?” Buddy said with a regal toss of his head.
There were small murmurs of agreement broken only by the clearing of throats. “Would you perhaps have somewhere we might be able to clean up?” Nutty said awkwardly, the mud already drying on his face and cracking as he tried to speak.
A ripple of laughter passed through the crowd before a small guinea pig led them to a nearby stream and left them to wash.
After they were cleaned up, they returned to the centre of the town and collected Bingo and Buddy before saying their goodbyes. So they finally knew where Horatio was heading. Back to the mountains he had been banished to.
They made good progress, marching till their feet hurt and they could no longer ignore their tummy’s rumbling. When they came to a small patch of grass Buddy, Nutty and Clover settled to eat their fill, while Bingo wandered ahead, checking things out and claiming he wasn’t hungry.
When Bingo returned, all three of his companions lay, stretched out in the sun, apparently enjoying the heat.
Clover yawned loudly, “You know,” she said stifling another yawn, “I don’t think I particularly care if we get that Princess back. Why not just stay here?”
Bingo looked at her in surprise, but her eyelids drooped as she dozed off, and she didn’t seem to notice. “You’re right. Why should we care about her?” Nutty said, tilting his head to one side and closing his eyes.
“What are you talking about?! This is the King’s orders we are following!” Bingo said sharply.
“You know,” Buddy said, opening one eye and peering blearily over at Bingo, “You are surprisingly moral for a thief. Since when do we have to do what the King says.”
“Since he’s the King, the kingdom of Cavyaira depends on it, and your fiancé got kidnapped.” Bingo said marking each thing off on his claws.
Buddy grumbled and rolled over. “What’s gotten into you guys?!” Bingo asked but his only reply was snores and heavy sleep breathing.
“Come on, get up.” Bingo said nudging Nutty.
He did not stir and it was then Bingo caught the first waft of lavender, a sure sign of magic. Bingo leapt back in case the magic lingered and tried to work out the source. But the enchantment was woven into something he could not find. He sighed. There was no choice.
Reaching into his backpack Bingo pulled out a glowing red stone. It was known in legend as the ‘RockRose of Redwyn. Bingo had, ‘acquired’ it on a recent adventure and been saving it for whenever he was in desperate need. Legend told of the RockRose and said it could only be used once.
It explained that if you said a simple phrase and held the rock to your heart it would assess if your motives were pure and your heart good.
If it judged you worthy, a beautiful guinea pig would appear. The guinea pig, known as Genie Rose. It was said that she had preserved her magic and mind in the stone to help save people in times of need.
Bingo considered this a time of need, even though he wanted to save it for something more exciting.
“Open Redwyn, rock and rose,
It is time that Genie was unfroze,
I need her help,
My intentions pure,
I have a problem,
I need to cure.” Bingo said, uneasily, the poetic lines not falling as easily from his lips as they might.
Pressing the rock to his chest he felt a pulse, like a heart beat, thud inside it. Then another. Then it went still and the rock stopped glowing. Bingo looked at it, then looked around. Nothing.
He shook the rock gently. Was it broken? Had he said something wrong? Was he not pure enough? He shook it again, but this time more vigorously. “Stupid rock.” he muttered under his breath.
So the legends were wrong. Now what was he supposed to do?
His three comrades were comatose and they only had days to reach the Princess and save her. He threw the rock to the ground in disgust, turning to see if he could track down the cause of the magic again.
It was a giggle that stopped him. He looked behind himself.
He couldn’t see anything or anyone that had not been there a moment ago. Turning to face forwards once more he jumped back with a yelp, when he discovered a face pressed nearly against his own.
The face giggled and he looked the stranger carefully. Large dark eyes looked out of a light grey face. Her body was patches of grey and white, the grey such an odd shade it was very nearly lilac.
A headpiece fixed between her ears was gold with a large, red, glowing stone in the centre. Bingo glanced to where he had cast the rock aside only moments ago. But there was nothing there.
There was the giggle again. It was from the stranger. “Are you Genie Rose?” he asked as she circled him.
“Yes. And you are Bingo. These are your friend, though you will not admit they are your friends yet. Such a lonely heart.” she sighed almost wistfully as she came to a stop in front of him again.
Her voice was musical but also surprisingly normal for someone who was powerful enough that some would kill to get hold of the stone she was in. “I need you to help my . . . Team.” Bingo said, pointing to the sleeping piggies, “Some sort of magic has done this to them, can you undo it?”
“Really,” Genie Rose huffed, looking cross, “Doesn’t anyone read fairytales these day. Magic cannot be ‘undone’ only changed.” she finished glaring at Bingo.
He held his paws up in defence against her anger. “Well can you change it so they will wake up?” he asked.
“Of course I can you silly boy! But you are asking all the wrong questions. Surely you wish to know where the magic came from and who put it there?” she suggested, eyebrows delicately raised.
“You mean somewhere put a spell on them on purpose?!” Bingo exclaimed.
“No. Someone spent two day on a spell preparation that would make the recipient say the opposite to what they normally would and then fall into a deep magic induced sleep, and left it on this tempting grass meadow because they thought a couple of half-dead sleeping bodies would add to the scenery.” Genie said sarcastically, “Of course it’s on purpose. Horatio H Hamster hired a mole who goes by the name of . . . Mojo. Very dramatic name isn’t it? But not what his Mother named him. Mojo is really called Chester. Not got quite the same effect has it. Do you like my name? I think my Mother had really good taste. She must have known I was going to be magical and mystical. Or maybe she didn’t like the fact she was called Annie and wanted something a little more exotic for me.” she said, her voice a lyrical chattering stream of conversation.
Her quick changes of topic were nearly dizzying and Bingo thought he might have to sit down if she didn’t calm down. “So why did Horatio have Mojo put a spell on this meadow?” he asked when she paused for breath in her ramblings.
“Ahh!” she said approvingly, “Finally, the right questions. Horatio worried that someone may try to come after him even though he had done all he could to make sure it was at a time when it would be difficult for everyone. So he caused riots in Rollstone, trouble in Twoleaf and spelled a snack. Not bad is it!” she gave a silly giggle again.
At Bingo’s disapproving look she added, “Well of course it is bad but you have to admire the thought that went into It.” she giggled again.
“Would you wake them up now? We need to go and rescue the Princess before anything else goes wrong.” Bingo said looking tired and pointing to his sleeping companions.
“No need to ask, they are already waking. I’ll hang around for a day or two in case you need me. Just call my name and I’ll be there.” she told him with a sweet smile.
Bingo turned, and just as she promised Buddy was yawning and Nutty blinking as he awoke slowly. “What do you mean call you? Where are you going to -” Bingo asked, turning round but she had vanished once more.
“Who are you talking to Bingo? We need to get going. You shouldn’t have let us sleep. Now we have wasted time.” Buddy told him crossly as he helped Clover to her feet.
Bingo sighed, there was no real point trying to explain what had happened. It would only hold them up and seeing as he had saved them and they were alright now, there was no point dragging it up again.
It was obvious when they were getting closer to the mountain. Evil here was rather well behaved as far as evilness goes. It obeyed certain rules and codes of behaviour. It sent chills up the spines of the approaching rescue mission. It was dark and cold, fog blanketing the ground in a spooky way.
The sounds of their footsteps echoed around them as they drew closer. Things scurried in the shadows and glowing eyes watched them from cracks and caves.
“I don’t like this.” Clover whispered, pressing closer to Nutty, as if he could protect her.
“I don’t like it either.” Nutty said pressing closer to Bingo.
“I’m sorry, but they’re pushing me into you.” Bingo said, as he found himself pressed against Buddy’s side.
Buddy looked down the line and rolled his eyes. Finally they came to what was unmistakable as Horatio’s Lair. It was the sign that gave it away. ‘Horatio’s Home. No leaflets, please leave post under the ugly gargoyle to the left.’
The sign and the fact that there was a small ginger and white face peering out of the wonky brown tower that was attached to the side of the mountain home.
“You know,” said a loud, high-pitched girly voice, which was shrill with emotion, “You said that there was a nice view from here Horri, but there isn’t.”
Buddy’s eyes widened, “That’s Poppy.” he whispered urgently to the others.
“The Princess?! Where?” Clover said, loudly, completely missing the fact that everyone else was whispering and trying to hide.
The ginger and white face at the window turned towards them, “Oooo Horri, it looks like you have some visitors! Hello down there.” Poppy called out waving her paw excitedly.
With no other choice the group rushed to the door in the side of the mountain and charged inside. Easily spotting the spiral staircase which led up to the tower to where Poppy was being held, they charged up.
Nutty went first, at his own insistence, as he was the one among them who was trained to fight. At the top he flung open the door with a flourish. Pretty Poppy stood with her usual sweet expression, watching the door.
Behind her was a brown hamster, with yellowing teeth and an eye patch over one eye. It was said that Horatio had lost his eye in a fight with King Nibbles before he was banished. It would seem the gossips were correct on this particular matter.
“Hello.” Poppy said with a bright smile, “Are you one of Horri’s friends?”
Nutty frowned, “Whose Horri? We are a rescue team sent by your father to save you from the clutches of Horatio H Hamster.” he explained as the others piled into the room behind him.
“Horatio Hamster?! The villain who caused trouble for my father? Where is he? Is he coming after me? Oh you must protect me and Horri.” Poppy cried dramatically with wide-eyed fear.
Behind her the hamster grinned. Bingo stepped forward, “Princess, the hamster you appear to know as Horri is really Horatio H Hamster.”
Poppy gasped, “Impossible. Horri is a designer of fashionable fur bows and accessories and he wants me to model for him.”
The hamster behind her laughed cruelly. Poppy looked at him worriedly over her shoulder, “Is everything alright Horri? You sound like you have a bit of a sore throat.” she asked.
“Sore throat?” he laughed again, “No. More like a sore head from dealing with all of your pointless chatter all the way here. Of course I am Horatio H Hamster. The H stands for Horrendous.”
“I thought the H stood for Horrible?” Clover said tilting her head to one side with a puzzled expression.
“No. That’s a common mistake. I don’t know who started that rumour, but I can assure you my middle name is Horrendous.” Horatio told her.
Clover thought for moment, then laughed. “Your Mummy called you Horatio Horrendous? That’s so funny!”
Nutty chuckled with her but both fell silent when Horatio gave them a dark look and stepped towards Poppy who was trying very hard to understand what was going on.
“Poppy, please come over here, quickly!” Buddy said, beckoning to her.
“Ooo Buddy, what are you doing here?” she asked, seeing the familiar Prince for the first time and. taking a step forward, but Horatio blocked her path.
“Now, what was it my letter told the king?” Horatio asked tapping his chin thoughtfully, “Oh yes, your daughter will stay alive and well as long as you obey my demands.” he turned his single eye to look at Poppy, “It seems Daddy dearest doesn’t care much what happens to you.”
Poppy inhaled sharply, “Horri, that was quite rude. I don’t care if you are an evil mad hamster who wishes to kill me, you will apologise for insulting my Father’s parenting skills.”
Horatio looked at her for a long moment then laughed. He should have seen it coming, but he was laughing so hard that tears rolled down his cheek pouches. A loud ‘thwack’ echoed in the small tower room, making everyone jump.
Nutty squeaked a little nervously when he realised multiple pairs of surprised eyes were on him, then lowered his paw, cradling it to his chest. “Owwwww”
“You poor thing! Oh Nutty, you were so brave.” Clover said rushing over and trying to get a closer look at the injured paw that had just flown very quickly and powerfully into the face of Horatio H Hamster, one of the most feared animals in Cavyaira.
Buddy strode the few paces to Poppy, “You silly thing. You could have been hurt or killed. Why ever did you go with a mysterious looking hamster with an eye patch, who looks anything but nice?!”
“Buddy! You should know not to judge an animal by their fluff. He told me his eye was fine, he was just making a fashion statement.” Poppy told him and then added wistfully, “I did so want to be a model.”
Upon their return, our adventurers received a hero’s welcome. With his paws in rather impressive magical handcuffs – supplied by Genie Rose before she left to help another adventurer – Horatio H Hamster was paraded through the towns and taken before the King.
Nibbles ordered the Horatio be locked in the dungeons for the rest of his days, to the cheers of his people. He was very relieved to have his daughter returned to him and improved protection on his castle with the help of his new advisor, and future son-in-law Prince Buddy. Nutty was of course given the title Sir Nutty for his bravery and received much admiration for the tales of his (rather exaggerated!) daring deeds.
His biggest admirer was Calamity Clover who, though still causing catastrophes wherever she went was now much happier. Having grown close to Princess Poppy on their return home, Clover had now been promoted to Lady-In-Waiting and close friend to Poppy.
You may be wondering what happened to Bingo. As usual he melted into the background, no doubt heading off on some sort of exciting adventure where he was free. Not tied down by extra names or admiration.
Once again the kingdom of Cavyaira was peaceful. The birds tweeted, the animals squeaked and another adventure was on the horizon.